If you’re familiar with Strata Brewing Co. already, you’ll know that Andy Morrison started brewing his delicious beers in Bolton as part of Rammy Craft Brewery. Since then, he’s gone solo, starting up cuckoo brewery Strata Brewing Co. and moved into Mighty Medicine’s 10bl brewery in Whitworth, Lancashire.
It’s been a while since we caught up with Andy, so we decided to hop on Zoom and ask him how his day was going.
Hi Andy! It’s been a long time since either of us came to visit you on a brew day. What’s been going on in Strata world since your move from Bolton?
“Since Bolton I got speaking to a friend with a bar in Rochdale called The Medicine Tap. He’s got a 10bl brewery just outside of Rochdale in a town called Whitworth, and he asked me if I’d like to lease it as a cuckoo brewery.”
“It’s quite a traditional cask-style brewery, with these big tall tanks. They’re massive actually. A lot of people think you need shiny, conical tanks to make trendy beer, but I’ve been having a lot of fun brewing beer that’s become fashionable in the ways they were originally made — using Boddies yeast in an open-top fermenter, finding workarounds to make what I want with the equipment that I have.”
“I’m given free reign in the brewery which is really cool, and so I’m enjoying finding ways to use it differently. Tweaks, not bodges. A friend called it “stoner engineering”— those quick fixes and overrides to overcome challenges in the brew. The brewer who was here before me used to do the same thing, and he was old-school. To keep the seal for one of the fermenters in place he’d used a split hosepipe as a sort-of guard. Worked a treat.”
It’s great to see you picking up momentum again. How have you been since lockdown 1?
“Last January was big; I got through to the Indy Man Beer Con Thirsty Games final, I had some wicked collabs organised, some beer festivals books that I was really excited about, and then obviously it all just fell away.”
“Everything being cancelled last year was a bit gutting because I’d felt so good about 2020 at the start of the year. But, it’s happened, and I just hope it all picks up again once everyone’s vaccinated and stuff.”
“So since lockdown I’ve been concentrating on canning and small-pack: things like bag-in-box have been quite popular with my regulars. But honestly, I’ve only done about 6 brews since the first lockdown. I’ve not been eligible for any government grants or financial help of ay sort, so it’s been quite tough just brewing when I needed to and keeping the business going on a shoestring.”
“It’s a little frustrating at the moment just brewing bits and pieces, you can’t really release a full representation of what you’re about. I just want to get back brewing!”
What are you most looking forward to brewing and releasing into the world?
“I’m looking forward to brewing the latest iteration of my Vietnamese Coffee Porter. It always goes down really well. Vietnamese coffee is just one of these things that I really like, and I don’t know why more people don’t brew with it! The chocolatey taste you get from the coffee beans is delicious.”
“I’m also hoping I can bring my hoppy pale Strike out in keg, I think it’ll work really, really well. It’s only 3.6% ABV but the Vienna malt in the base gives it much more body than you’d expect. I use Mosaic and Centennial for it which I love — it’s untrendy but I like it!”
What have you been enjoying brewing recently?
“It was Strata’s first birthday in August, so I got hold of some brand new Strata hops (we were named Strata first!) and made a single hop Strata pale. I really enjoyed that one, and I want to make it again.”
“Also, for the Independent Salford Beer Festival I brewed Tutoku, a 4.5% NZ Pale, which was hopped with a field blend of different New Zealand hops from an organic hop farm over there. I really enjoyed how this beer turned out and I love the idea of field blended hops. I wish more hop growers and companies did it. I used a blend of London ESB — a Fuller’s yeast — and Windsor yeasts to create these like, stone fruit esters and I was just really, really happy with it.”
“Thalweg is my Cascade pale, and in it I use Cascade and Idaho 7, which is actually related to Cascade, it’s like a modern version of it. I enjoy finding ways to brew modern, progressive beer but keeping to the aspects of old-school or more trad beers that made them so good. Thalweg is old-meets-new, a gateway beer, an easy drinker, and I think it’s translated really well to can.”
And as luck would have it, we’ve got Thalweg in can on the Corto webshop right now! Go get it!
We love Andy’s beers and we can’t wait to open Corto so we can pour them by the pint! Wishing Strata Brewing Co. all the best of luck for 2021, and we hope they get all the attention they deserve 🙂